Utenzi wa Ahmad bin Abdilkadir (MS 380750a)

Material Information

Utenzi wa Ahmad bin Abdilkadir (MS 380750a)
Series Title:
Knappert Collection :
Publication Date:
Paper ( medium )
Typescript manuscript : In black type on thin paper


Subjects / Keywords:
Swahili poetry ( LCSH )
Kiswahili mashairi
Poetry ( LCTGM )
Spatial Coverage:
Africa -- Kenya -- Lamu County -- Eastern Africa -- Lamu -- Lamu Island
-2.269444 x 40.902222


In this poem of 119 stanzas the poet offers advice, apparently addressing his son, who in stanza 17 is named as Nasridin. Among subjects considered by the poet are how to choose and act towards a wife; how to behave towards mwanaharamu, that is, an illegitimate child; the importance of kindness towards neighbours and generosity towards the poor; the need to refrain from gossip and back-biting; the importance of humility; the need to respect all people, including those of low social status; the importance of keeping troubling matters within the family, rather than speaking of them to outsiders and the importance of obeying one’s elders. The poet advises that his son should avoid making unfavourable inferences about the behaviour of Others; that he should give thoughtful instruction as to how his own property will be divided after his death; that after his parents die he should visit their graves at least monthly; and that he should not make companions of fools or evil-doers. Towards its end the poem inclines towards religious remonstrance. The father reminds his son of the inevitability of death (also touched upon in stanza 24), urges him to adhere to pillars of Islam and reminds him of the status of Abu Bakr as the first man to accept the teaching of the Prophet Mohammed. He also reminds his son of the two angels that record all his deeds, both good and evil. A few aspects of this poem deserve special comment. First, the poem bears a general resemblance to that in which Muhammad Kijumwa offers advice to his son Helewa (see MSS 380066a); certain points of advice, for example that concerning the prompt and willing payment of porters, appear in both poems. The stanzas (16-19) in which the poet tells his son how he came to be named Nasridin have a rather unusual anecdotal quality. Finally, stanza 82 of this poem is nearly identical to stanza 22 of the Utenzi wa Mwana Kupona (as it appears in Allen 1977); the outstanding difference is, of course, the use of ‘baba’ rather than ‘mama’ as the term of address. A number of stanzas are missing words or entire half-lines, and spelling errors complicate the reading of the poem. In stanza 60, for example, ‘mungo’ should be read as ‘muinga,’ the Kiamu form of the standard ‘mjinga.’ The relation of stanza 79 to surrounding stanzas is hard to understand. Stanza 102 is best understood as the start of the passage that is continued in stanzas 105-207. ( en )
General Note:
Date of Composition is unknown
General Note:
Languages: Swahili (Roman script)
General Note:
Dialects: KiAmu
General Note:
Poetic Form: Utenzi
General Note:
Extent: 6 leaves
General Note:
Incipit: Hapo zamani za yana, nilipokuwa kijana, Hata ndevu sijavuna, Haya nikayasikiya
General Note:
See also SOAS University of London manuscript MS 228624 (Hichens collection) dated 1937 and given to Hichens by Alice Werner
General Note:
Archival history: This manuscript was formerly part of MS 380526
General Note:
Africa -- Eastern Africa -- Kenya -- Lamu County -- Lamu -- Lamu Island
General Note:
Part of a collection purchased from Dr. J. Knappert in March 1993

Record Information

Source Institution:
SOAS University of London
Holding Location:
Archives and Special Collections
Rights Management:
This item may be in the public domain. Its status has yet to be assessed.
Resource Identifier:
MS 380750 ( SOAS manuscript number )
MS 380750a ( SOAS manuscript number )